Shark Awareness Day is observed on July 14 to highlight sharks’ importance and the need to conserve them. Sharks are extremely vital to marine ecosystems and people, and several populations are under threat of extinction.
Shark finning and the worldwide fin trade epidemic kill 100 million sharks each year. Shark fisheries target the apex predators, and it has been reported that large species of sharks have declined since the 1970s. The Shark Research Institute describes shark finning as catching sharks and hacking off their fins before throwing them back into the ocean. Most sharks are still alive and die a slow and agonizing death by drowning or bleeding out.
Sharks are important to the ecosystem around us for a vast number of reasons. Being apex predators, they maintain the food chain below them; without them, our entire ecosystem could fall out of place. Vital habitats, such as our reefs, could be destroyed, and without our reefs, beaches could see serious erosion and more storm surges. Not only that, but shark ecotourism is a billion-dollar industry. The economy would be greatly affected by the loss of many shark populations.
Tagging and rules and restrictions are now aiding the species, but more education is needed to ensure everyone is on board with the notion. Stricter and more enforceable bans and regulations to keep populations stable are needed. Millions of sharks are killed throughout the year, and it’s up to more conservation efforts to save the populations.
If you’re wondering how you can aid in the conservation of sharks, Mystic Aquarium has posted the following steps:
- Pledge to never consume or serve shark fin soup. Contact your government representatives and sign a petition to support a ban on the shark fin trade.
- Never buy shark cartilage, liver oil, skin, teeth, or jaws.
- If you choose to eat seafood, make sure it’s sustainable.
- Educate your community about the importance of protecting sharks.
- Donate to or volunteer with a reputable shark conservation organization, such as Shark Savers, Project Aware, or Oceana.
Stay tuned for Shark Week premiering July 24 on Discovery and Discovery +. If you can’t wait for this legendary week, National Geographic’s Shark Fest debuted on July 10 and will run for four weeks to commemorate the program’s tenth anniversary.